Markets

Electric utilities in China avoid investing in gas peaking plants due to cost issues. Fuel prices are bound to rise with the start of China’s national emissions trading scheme (CETS) in mid-2021, and the latest winter cold period highlighted security of supply risks for imported LNG.

German construction firm Bilfinger and the infrastructure finance arm of Munich Re have both withdrawn from work related to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea, due to looming US sanctions. Bilfinger had been contracted to deliver and operate process control systems and supply a gas-fired heat and power unit.

Exports of liquefied natural gas from the US will exceed gas exports by pipeline in the first and fourth quarter of 2021, as well as in 2022 on an annual basis. Monthly US LNG exports reached a record of 9.4 Bcf/d in November and of 9.8 Bcf/d in December 2020 and January 2021, according to shipping data, and are forecast to average 9.7 Bcf/d in February.

Strong growth in renewables has reduced the share of coal in China’s power generation mix to less than 50% - for the first time. Fitch Ratings expects the contribution of coal will fall by a further 3% in 2021 as the government pushes for a coal-to-gas switch to reach carbon neutrality.

Volkswagen has sold more electric cars worldwide than Tesla for the first time ever, as electrification of transport accelerates in Europe, the US and China. The brands of the VW group, which include Porsche and Audi, sold 192,000 fully electric cars or plug-in hybrid vehicles in the fourth quarter, compared to Tesla's 181,000 e-vehicles sold.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has narrowly avoided a cascade of power failures thanks to a small surplus of gas supply near some peaking power plants. Natural gas fuels more than 40,000 MW generating capacity in Texas during peak periods, but the latest cold freeze disrupted production and made pipeline compressors trip.

The German gas industry calls for the construction of  Nord Stream 2 to be finalised this year to enhance competition amongst gas importers and ensure energy prices remain low. „If we didn't have it, we would be talking about several billion Euros of additional [cost] burdens,” said Timm Kehler, head of the lobby group Zukunft Gas.

Solar power is poised for “explosive growth” in India, matching coal’s share within two decades, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Today, solar PV makes up 3% and coal close to 70% of India’s power mix, but by 2040 they will converge in the low 30%s in a dramatic tilt to green energy.

The European Union‘s 2030 emissions target of a 55% reduction over 1990 levels has made it the undisputed global leader in climate ambition. But the bloc is falling short of its goal, Wood Mackenzie warns, unless the rollout of electric vehicles and renewable build-out gets accelerated along with coal power plants retirements.

Fitch Ratings has warned fossil fuel exporters face a growing risk of loss of GDP, government revenue and export receipts as more upstream assets are downgraded, or become stranded, as the energy transition progresses. Coal suffers a greater loss of market share than oil and natural gas.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer has agreed to acquire Enable Midstream Partners in an all-equity transaction valued at around $7.2 billion. The merger is expected to lead to $100 million operational cost savings and gives Energy Transfer access to gas gathering and processing assets in the Anadarko and Haynesville Shale, and pipelines to transport the gas to the US Gulf Coast.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has decided to raise energy prices after a winter storm left more than 4 million people without electricity in Texas. The grid operator was not able to cope with the sudden demand spike, while fuel shortages forced some utilities to implement rolling blackouts.

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News in Brief

B&W wins $13m new contracts in North America

Feb 25 – The thermal segment of Babcock & Wilcox has been awarded several energy-related projects in North America, worth approximately $13 million, as the market strengthens and projects continue to restart following delays in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.” We’re seeing customers now moving forward with necessary work that had been previously put on hold. The recent inclement weather also has forced higher loads within the utility sector and we anticipate stronger demand for parts and services going forward,” said B&W Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Morgan.

PIC Group to service 1.1 GW Hummel Power Station

Feb 24 – Atlanta-based PIC Group has been awarded an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) contract for the Hummel Power Station, a 1,124 MW combined-cycle plant operated by LS Power Group. Situated in Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania, the CCGT is equipped with three SGT6-5000F gas turbines, one SST6-5000 steam turbine, three SGen6-1000A air-cooled generators and one hydrogen-cooled SGen6-2000H generator.

Duke Energy claims natural gas is cheaper than energy storage

Feb 23 – Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas have both indicated in their latest integrated resource plans (IRPs) they view battery storage as potentially more costly than proven gas-fired generating technology. Market observers noted, however, that Duke’s estimates peg the capital costs of a 50 MW/200 MWh energy storage plant at $347 per kWh —far higher than the cost of units that entered commercial service in 2020, as per Lazard data.

EU emission rules could herald end of combustion engine

Feb 22 – Future EU emission rules for cars could mean the abrupt end of combustion engines and put many jobs at risk, the German engineering federation VDMA has warned in a position paper. The use of efficient combustion engines is “still important” – both for vehicles and small generators –VDMA President Karl Haeusgen stressed, especially since these engines can be operated in a climate-neutral manner with synthetic fuels or hydrogen.

Saudi cement producer renews Wärtsilä O&M deal

Feb 19 – The Saudi Arabian cement producer Umm AlQura Cement has signed a five year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreement with Wärtsilä for the customer’s captive power plant in Taif City. The 47 MW plant operates with five Wärtsilä 32TS engines. The initial three year maintenance agreement was signed in 2015, and thereafter renewed once.

Gazprom expands Sakhalin–Vladivostok gas pipeline

Feb 18 – The Russian major Gazprom is expanding the Sakhalin – Khabarovsk – Vladivostok gas trunkline at the section between Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Khabarovsk. More than 315 kilometers, or three quarters of its overall length, has been welded to date. Gazprom’s 2021-2025 investment programme will total RUB 5.49 billion ($70 million) – more than three times he money spent in 2016–2020. Planned projects include 14 inter-settlement gas pipelines, 9.3 kilometers of gas pipeline branches, and six gas distribution stations.

Enstor closes sale of Waha gas storage

Feb 17 – Houston-based Enestor Gas has completed the sale of its Waha Gas Storage assets in northwest Texas to WhiteWater Midstream. Waha Gas Storage assets have the capacity, when fully developed, to store approximately 10 Bcf of natural gas and include six underground caverns and permits for five additional caverns.

Technip Energies listed in Paris

Feb 16 – Today, Technip Energy has been listed at Euronext’s regulated market in Paris. CEO Arnaud Pieton said the company’s mission is to “serve the energy transition” through its leading position in LNG, hydrogen and ethylene. As growth areas, he singled out sustainable chemistry and CO2 management.

US renewable energy share to double by 2050

Feb 15 – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that the share of renewables in the U.S. electricity generation mix will increase from 21% in 2020 to 42% in 2050. Wind and solar generation are responsible for most of that growth, while nuclear and coal-fired generation decrease. The share of gas-fired generation will remain stable even though gas prices remain low at an estimated $3.50 per MMBtu, according to EIA projections.

Nikkiso to build electric-mechanical actuators

Feb 12 – The clean energy arm of Nikkiso Cryogenic Industries has bought the intellectual property to manufacture electric-mechanical actuators (EMA) and control panels. Coupled to a cryogenic pump, the system works without gearbox which reduces the size of these vertical pumps frequently used in the oil and gas industry.

Europe’s hydrogen projects outnumber current plants

Feb 11 – The number of hydrogen projects across Europe is almost double that of operational electrolysers as demand for the clean fuel is rising fast. According to research by DLA Piper and inspirata, there are 192 planned or announced hydrogen projects in Europe compared to 107 currently operational ones.

NTE to develop 5 GW clean energy projects

Feb 10 – Florida-based NTE Energy is working with investment partners to develop 1.2 GW of solar and 3.9 GW of battery energy storage systems (BESS) next to thermal power plants. “By co-locating renewable projects with thermal generation, we can offer customers access to affordable solar power options backed up by reliable natural gas,” said Steve Remen, NTE managing director. The company aims to bring 4 GW of its proposed clean energy projects into commercial operation by 2026.

Oil price bounces back

Feb 9 – The price of crude oil has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, after plunging to an all-time low last year. Brent crude oil prices for the front-month April were last seen trading at nearly $61 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the benchmark for US oil, has risen above the $58 a barrel mark for the first time in over a year.

Equinor VP named co-chair of OGUK board

Feb 8 – Arne Gürtner, Senior Vice President UK & Ireland Offshore at Equinor has been appointed to co-chair the Oil & Gas UK board, as the sector strive to recover while meeting its net-zero targets for 2021. He will be working with Phil Simons, VP North Sea & Canada, Subsea 7.

Enagás to tap wind power for hydrogen

Feb 5 – The Spanish utilities Enagás and Naturgy are evaluating the potential of producing hydrogen from a 250 MW floating off-shore wind farm and a 100 MW on-shore wind farm in Asturias. The project is hoped to generate more than 1500 jobs during construction and operation, with developers applying for funding under the IPCEI scheme.

Turboden wins contract in the Philippines

Feb 4 – Italy-based Turboden, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has been awarded a contract by the Philippine utility EDC to supply a 20 MW geothermal power plant at Bacon-Manito, on the island of Luzon. The zero-emissions power unit is scheduled to start operations before the end of 2022, and will help lower the local grid’s dependence on fossil energy source.

DNV GL streamlines energy businesses

Feb 3 –Norwegian-German classification society DNV GL has combined its current Oil & Gas and Power & Renewables business. The new ‘Energy Systems’ unit employs over 4,000 experts as of February 1, 2021, providing certification, advisory and digital monitoring services across the entire energy value chain. By combining its expertise, DNV GL said it is “better equipped to support clients in tackling the energy transition.”

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